When I was last in a serious relationship, with my ex M who I dated for four years, I was extremely devoted to the relationship and making it work, helping it last. It was an open relationship for almost the whole time, and through it I began to explore polyamory. Within that, though, we were very close and very dedicated to staying together.

Since I broke up with M, I've certainly dated and I've had short-term relationships. I was seeing a girl when we broke up, but that fell apart soon after because we couldn't reconcile our monogamous and polyamorous goals. I had one boyfriend who sort-of-accidentally moved into my room during my junior year of college, but he left school after we were together for a semester. I've had a couple of summer lovers, but nobody in the last few years who lasted more than a season or a semester.

I've handled all these breakups and growing- or moving-aparts really well. Some have been harder than others, but I've stayed friends with each lover and moved on fluidly. I'm very mature about it all, usually calm and forgiving. I've felt good about all the relationships ending, in fact. I cried over some of them and certainly a couple were hard, but I always saw it as a learning experience.

I wonder, though, if that's just because I only allowed myself a certain level of depth in each of these interactions. I have been in love with maybe one person since M. That loss was certainly the hardest to deal with, but I did it. We'd never promised each other anything, and I let it go.

It's been a very, very long time, though, since I made any kind of relationship commitment. When I decide to be in a relationship, when I make promises to somebody and make it a priority, I throw myself in. I feel very strongly and I work very hard to make it go well. I like it when I can be submersed in that way. It feels good.

I'm also really, really scared of it. To be committed like that puts me in such a vulnerable place. I don't think I'm wrong not to throw myself into that; I do need to trust someone before I give them that power over me. It takes time to develop that trust.

I just wonder if I'm missing out, or if I'm limiting my own happiness by being so guarded. I'm having an opportunity to commit, which I'll likely write about soon, and I'm considering a big shove to my comfort zone. The opportunity, and my resulting anxiety, just made it totally clear to me how long it's been since I opened myself up in any real way. It's a long-forgotten feeling, and we'll see how it pans out.


Unknown said...

this reminds me of a poem by Peter McWilliams that I've seen thrown about the internets:

It is a risk to love.
What if it doesn't work out?
Ah, but what if it does?

Simple message is that if you're trying to minimize the pain of trusting someone and their eventual breach of that trust, it's probably best not to engage that way.

But. But. Some people are worth the possibility suffering, no? And not in an abuse kind of way, but suffering in the grief that is sure to come from not working out. With some people you think "this is so good, I have to figure it out even if it means it all goes to shit."

I try not to think of it as "do I think pain is unlikely" and more as "am I comfortable accepting the possibility of pain to see if this is as awesome as I think it could be."

In that case, the fear is meaningless. I have nothing to be afraid of.

Does that make sense?

On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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